The NAHLN is a cooperative effort between two USDA agencies—the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture ( NIFA; formerly CSREES)—and the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians ( www.aavld.org). It is a multifaceted network comprised of sets of laboratories that focus on different diseases, using common testing methods and data standards to process diagnostic requests and share information.
At the Federal level, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) serves as the national veterinary diagnostic reference and confirmatory laboratory. NVSL coordinates activities, participates in methods validation, and provides training, proficiency testing, assistance, materials, and prototypes for diagnostic tests.
The State/University laboratories in the NAHLN perform routine diagnostic tests for endemic animal diseases as well as targeted surveillance and response testing for foreign animal diseases. State/University laboratories also participate in the development of new assay methodologies.
Networking these resources provides an extensive infrastructure of facilities, equipment, and personnel that are geographically accessible no matter where disease strikes. The laboratories have the capability and capacity to conduct nationwide surveillance testing for the early detection of an animal disease outbreak. They are able to test large numbers of samples rapidly during an outbreak and to demonstrate freedom from disease after eradication.
Key elements of the NAHLN system include:
The NAHLN also contributes to wider societal goals, such as:
NAHLN laboratories are trained, proficiency tested, and follow standardized testing protocols for the following diseases: